inTouch Calls for Coercive Control Reform Across Family Violence Sector

20th January, 2021

In a position paper released today, inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence has called
for a number of crucial, sector-wide changes to support the criminalisation of coercive control.
Coercive control is a deliberate pattern of abuse occurring within intimate relationships, consisting
of emotional and psychological manipulation, such as intimidation, stalking, surveillance and
isolation. It is commonly used in instances of family violence and is almost always a precursor to
serious physical violence or homicide.

The paper makes a number of recommendations informed by the organisation’s 36 years of
experience working with refugee and migrant victim-survivors of family violence.

“Criminalising coercive control is a key step in understanding how family violence is perpetrated in
our community,” inTouch CEO, Michal Morris said. “Generally, violence and abuse can take many
forms including ongoing and persistent emotional abuse and control, but our current response
system reacts to individual incidents that are largely physical in nature. Criminalisation would allow
us to respond more comprehensively to a pattern of behaviour, ensuring that victim-survivors have a
clear path to safety, justice and recovery.”

While the organisation supports the criminalisation, inTouch also recognises that any future coercive
control legislation could have an adverse effect on some of the country’s most vulnerable
populations. In order to circumvent this, the position paper strongly emphasises the importance of
widespread consultation, training, education and policy change across both family violence
response sectors and the community.

“Too often, we see the detrimental effects of over-policing and racial profiling on marginalised
communities,” Ms. Morris said. “In order for coercive control legislation to be equitable and
effective, there are significant structural and systemic issues that must be addressed. Crucially, the
first step government should undertake is a broad and thorough consultation across the community.
Without a nuanced and educated application, legislation could have the potential to harm those it is
intended to help.”

Issues covered in the position paper include:

  • The potential for the criminalisation of coercive control to improve judicial responses to family
    violence and contribute to the reduction of harm
  • Changing community attitudes towards controlling patterns of behaviour in relationships
  • The possible effect of criminalisation on refugee and migrant communities and the steps required
    to encourage positive outcomes

inTouch’s position paper can be read here

Find out about us

Who we are

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

Accessibility Tools